Aviation News

May 23, 2012

Video: Passenger Captures Engine Cover Shattering During Takeoff

This is what happens when you use an electronic device during takeoff: The engine cover breaks off and hurls itself into the side of your plane.

Okay, just kidding about that cause-effect, but there was some panic among passengers on this TAM Airbus A320, (registration PR-MYP) as it took off this past Saturday.

TAM Flight 3317 was departing Natal, Brazil for Sao Paulo when the cowling doors gave way on its left-hand CFM56 engine. At least one of the doors proceeded to fly into the side of the fuselage about a dozen rows behind the wing.

The flight, with 166 people onboard, circled for about an hour to burn off fuel and made an emergency landing at Natal, according to Aviation Herald. No one was hurt.

While the producer of this video and other passengers believe an engine explosion caused the doors to fly off, it seems more likely to us that the problem was contained to the doors themselves: Either someone failed to latch one or both of the doors properly (and the captain failed to notice during his pre-flight walk-around) or a latch itself failed. Once the first door blew off, the air flow entering the cowling would be strong enough to dislodge the second door.

Being that the plane was delivered just a three weeks ago, fatigue to the doors can probably be ruled out as a factor.

Those cowling doors should be pretty easy to replace, but damage to the fuselage might be a little trickier, depending on how deep those gashes are. We’ll let you know if we find out more.

Post-flight look at the broken cowling. (Photo by ruscinc, via Instagram)

Post-flight look at the broken cowling. (Photo by ruscinc, via Instagram)



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  • For those who don’t understand portuguese, Victor, the guy who was filming with his iphone (airplane mode, I suppose) faints for a few seconds as a result of panick right after the engine doors flew off. He says “oh my god” before that.

    He said on his you tube channel it was his first flight ever, hence his anxiety.

    Meanwhile others try to warn flight attendents: “the thing blew up over there!”, “the wing blew up!”, “the engine!”.

    Victor, wakes up, now even more terrified and start yelling “avisa! pelo amor de deus!” which means something like “warn/tell them for god’s sake!” while some people ask him and everyone to calm down.

    One of the passengers even mentions “it didn’t explode, it just got uncovered”.

  • USFLYguy

    Thanks for translating for us F.Sena…. It brings clarity and understanding when understanding what the passengers are saying…. Especially during time during an emergency…. Although these occurrences are extremely rare, it would be enough for dear Victor who already feared flying and this was to happen during his first flight… I hope this set back does not keep him from becoming a jetsetter!!!

  • You may find this short video interesting (and relevant to the discussion)